The escape of a quadruple murderer, Michael Elliot, from Ionia County Correctional Facility in Michigan Sunday evening raises concern for the prison system across the U.S. A national alert was put out for the escapee, who was serving life in prison for arson and robbery on top of the four counts of first degree murder in 1993.
Elliot was said to have escaped through a hole in the ground by the fence. Once out, he then held a woman hostage who he forced with a box cutter knife to drive him to Elkhart County in Indiana. Elliot drove away with the car after the lady found safety at a gas station. The vehicle is a red-colored Jeep Liberty with license plate 5FTG55. It is noticeable for having decals of Tasmanian Devil and Bugs Bunny.
Elliot is 5’ 8“ tall and 165 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. He has tattoos on both arms and a scar on his upper lip. Reports say the escapee and quadruple murderer could be heading out of Michigan to Tennessee. This prison escape raises concern for prisons across the U.S.
One of the more recently publicized prison escapes before Michael Elliot was in Oklahoma, where four inmates escaped a detention center by squeezing through a trap door above a shower and exiting through the pipe chase door outside the facility. The four prisoners have since been caught.
In 2006, ABC reported that most escape plans, such as these two cases in Oklahoma and now Michigan, involve prisoners fleeing upon a window of opportunity. Camille G. Camp, co-president of Criminal Justice Institute, described this to ABC as a “five-second space” when nobody is looking when the convicts escape.
Slate reports that in 1993, 14,305 prisoners of 780,357 in state prisons escaped, which exponentially declined to 2,512 in 2008. No numbers since have been released, but prison escapes are said to be declining year by year and are most definitely lower than the peak years of the 1990s. This reported decline is at a time when prison numbers are higher.
One of the biggest concerns, ABC reports, is the ratio of officers to prisoners in state and federal prisons. That number is said to be one officer per 5.6 prisoners. On Jan. 2, 2014, it was reported that in Oklahoma prisoners outnumber correction officers 11 to 1, while the starting pay is $4 lower than the national average. An ABC report says starting pay is no more than $20,000 annually, a fact that doesn’t make it any easier to find available guards to help with the shortages. In 2012, Texas, home to one of the largest populations of inmates in the U.S., began to offer $3000 in signing bonus to help fill the vacancies. Entry-level salary there is $27,800, increasing after two months by another $1,700, according to the Department of Criminal Justice website. There are many other states that are sure to be having the same problems.
Though most recent statistics show that prison escapes are lower, one quadruple murderer escapee in Michigan is raising concerns across the nation for other U.S. prisons in regards to how security is handled, right down to the root problem of salaries, which is not an easy issue to resolve.
To report the whereabouts of Michael Elliot, phone 616-527-4431 or call 9-1-1.
By Kollin Lore